Jurassic Park fever swept the world back in the summer of 1993. After the smashing blockbuster hit, dinosaurs were back and bigger than ever. Later that November, Ocean released a video game adaptation of Jurassic Park to mostly rave reviews. Exactly one year later, they were at it again with a sequel. But this time, rather than an overhead action game with first person shooter sections, Jurassic Park 2: The Chaos Continues was a more basic and traditional side-scrolling shoot ‘em up. Jurassic Park 2 comes off a bit like a mix between Alien³ and Contra III, proving that going back to the basics can be what’s best for business.
REWIND BACK TO JANUARY 25, 2006
I never played Jurassic Park 2 back in the day but I fondly recall the crazy 6-page EGM preview in their December 1994 issue. When I got back into the Super Nintendo nearly 12 years ago (January 17, 2006 to be precise), Jurassic Park 2 was one of the earliest games I picked up. It’s a fond memory for me as it fell on the first day of my final undergrad semester at my old college. It was a Wednesday I can still vividly recall. That semester Wednesday was the best day of the week because I only had one class on Wednesdays (9-10:15 AM). After class that day I had a couple girl friends go buy some books with me at the local campus store. Afterward it was 11:30 and I decided to drive to a nearby Game Crazy to see what SNES goodies they might have that day. Game Crazy was a hub attached to Hollywood Video back when these relics existed. There was a time when Game Crazy was actually pretty damn good. They used to carry a solid variety of top-notch SNES games in excellent condition, but this was before the SNES scene exploded. On this particular afternoon, much to my delight I found The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Jurassic Park 2: The Chaos Continues and The Lost Vikings. I got The Lost Vikings free as part of Game Crazy’s buy 2 get 1 free deal. Talk about starting off my final undergrad semester with a bang!
I remember asking the cashier that day if he had any Sega Saturn games in storage. I don’t know why but I asked him and boy am I glad I did. He said he received a stash of Saturn games recently but that they had not yet put out on display. He pulled out a thick black binder, unzipped it and revealed a bunch of somewhat scarce Saturn titles in high demand. I ended up buying Shining Wisdom and Iron Storm for $2.99 each while getting Saturn Bomberman for free. Talk about highway robbery! It was one HELL of a deal. I couldn’t stop grinning from ear to ear as I drove home.
Here’s a shot of the actual Hollywood Video from my childhood town. Man, it brings back so many memories. The mountains in the back. How Target was right across the street and how just to the right of the Target sign stood a classic mom and pop rental shop by the name of Video Mart. One time my mom was shopping at Target while I sat on the little lawn right there by the Target sign, reading Goosebumps book #26, entitled My Hairiest Adventure. Man, for some reason that sticks out in my mind. Good innocent times from a bygone era. It’s really a shame that kids these days only know of Redbox and NetFlix. I like those modern conveniences too, but damn if it’ll ever match the pure joy and wonder of visiting the local rental store on a Saturday afternoon. If you were a kid growing up at any point between the ’80s to mid ’90s, it was a ritual and a way of life. There’s something incredibly sacred about those old video stores and memories that I cherish and hold near and dear to my heart. And always will.
Here’s a shot of that same Hollywood Video that I captured on a cold rainy Monday night in January of 2006. Hollywood was one of my favorite stores to visit as a kid. I wasted hours going up and down the long aisles staring at the back of horror movie VHS boxes and gawking at the latest 16-bit video games. It was a big part of my childhood, and it saddens me that the kids of today will never know what it’s like to roam through a video store on a lazy Saturday afternoon. This particular Hollywood Video location finally died off in 2009. It was one of the last relics remaining from my youth. Thanks for the memories, Hollywood! Farewell dear old friend. Long live 16-bit and horror movie boxes!
WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE
Jurassic Park 2: The Chaos Continues holds a fairly distinct honor. To the best of my knowledge, it’s the only “movie sequel” game on the SNES that came out before the actual movie sequel itself. The Lost World: Jurassic Park didn’t come out in theaters until May 19, 1997.
THE STORY GOES…
It’s interesting that the intro focuses purely on the bad guys. That might be a first in SNES history. The best thing about this game is its 2 player co-op mode. Player 2 controls Michael Wolfskin, a character entirely made up for the sake of this game and has no canon to either the film or novel.
The six weapons are split into two categories: lethal and non-lethal. Lethal guns will kill dinosaurs and humans. But here’s the kicker: there’s a dinosaur counter that keeps track of the dinosaur population inhabiting Isla Nublar. It starts at 100 and drops each time you kill a dinosaur (excluding raptors and the T-Rex). The game ends if the number drops too low. But the number also rises the more you kill them (due to natural reproduction). It is best then to maim dinosaurs with your non-lethal weapons. Note however that non-lethal weapons do zero damage to the humans. The good news? You start off with all six weapons and can switch on a dime. This may sound confusing but it’s pretty natural after playing it for a bit.
Objectives are listed before entering a mission.
Awesome how you can leap from behind ladders and swing around them to latch on safely. It’s always the little details.
Satisfying to pick off these bastards. Doing so will blow their sorry asses SKY HIGH. Boom.
There was even almost a Toxic Crusaders game on the SNES. But it got canned before it could ever get off the ground. Despite the game looking kind of awful, I was disappointed it was never released. Call it morbid curiosity if nothing else.
Emergency missions are a BITCH.
WHAT THE CRITICS SAID
Jurassic Park 2 received a whopping 6-page preview in EGM issue #65 (December 1994). The next month EGM gave it scores of 6, 7, 7 and 8. Super Play rated it 83%. The sequel didn’t get the hype or praise that the first game did, despite it being considerably better than the first one. The first game benefited from being based off the actual movie and naturally had more hype due to its timely release following the summer blockbuster. The fact that Jurassic Park 2 is the only SNES game (to the best of my knowledge) that is a sequel to a film that had yet to exist speaks to the mega brand of Jurassic Park. It makes Jurassic Park 2 a unique footnote in SNES history if nothing else. Speaking of unique, how many SNES games can you name that features a voice-laden intro?
Jurassic Park 2 has a little of the intense run ‘n gun action of Contra III but it’s also sprinkled with the exploratory aspects of Alien³. Oh and of course, plenty of dinosaurs. The visuals are quite good. Raptors look a thousand times more realistic and menacing than they did in the first game. Guns fly out of the hands of BioSyn soldiers as you mow them down. Some of the stages have a striking look. Sound and music is both rock solid with lots of nice loud explosions and unsettling dinosaur roars. The game is harder than a two dollar steak, however, and that may turn off some players. Memorization and knowing when to fire which gun is critical to success. Perseverance will lead to a fairly rewarding experience, especially if you can find a buddy to join in. Not too shabby, Ocean. Certainly a marked improvement over their first Jurassic Park outing.
However, the game is plagued by a few flaws. Similar to the first game, Jurassic Park 2 doesn’t employ a password system. It makes beating this game in one sitting a very daunting task. It’s a shame Ocean didn’t learn from their previous mistake. Also, the difficulty approaches unfair territory at times; the annoyingly timed emergency missions are a total pain in the ass. But if you’re willing to overlook these flaws then Jurassic Park 2 is a pretty solid two player dinosaur blasting romp. It doesn’t get talked about often and seems to have been largely forgotten. It’s not great, or even good perhaps, but it’s definitely a solid addition to any SNES library that already has everything else.